Good Fantasy Reads

Decent Fantasy Books Worth Reading...
Enchanted Worlds Await: Discover Good Fantasy Reads for Every Adventurer

This section lists fantasy books that are definitely worth reading. While they aren't the best of the best, these books are still very enjoyable. If you've read all the books in the Top 25 Fantasy Books list and Top 100 Fantasy Books list, the Best of Fantasy Genre, Best Fantasy Books Since 2010, and the Best Fantasy Books of 2014 and Top 25 Best Stand Alone Fantasy Books, then you should check out the books on this list. 

This is sort of the 'catch all' list for books that slip through the other best lists. They are books that I consider good enough to recommend, but not over any of the better books in the genre. Keep in mind that I certainly can't list every single fantasy book/series ever punished so this list is NOT exhaustive. Just because you don't see a book on this list doesn't mean the book is bad -- it may perhaps be on another list on this site or maybe I've not yet read it yet. 

If you do read through this list, then be sure to check out some of the other specialist lists or best subgenre lists for some more specific recommendations based on certain themes or elements or fantasy subgenres.

The Night Angel trilogy is the story of a young, abused street-thief's transformation into a badass, magically-enhanced assassin. As one might expect from a story about learning to kill people for a living, it's more than a little dark.Beyond the grit, moral ambiguity and violence, the Night Angel books have gut-wrenchingly horrifying sections, such as a gigantic magical monstrosity that incorporates the flesh of its victims into itself, or a cannibal with a noose made from the tendons of his victims who drags people into a stinking pit. These things aren't the exception in these books. They're the norm. Somehow, Weeks also manages to make the books fun and action-packed, and some of the scenes feel like they would belong in a Hollywood action movie. The action is exquisitely written, and the stealth scenes are particularly tense. The book opens on the protagonist rooting around through mud, afraid from his ife and well, somehow, things manage to go downhill.Read this book if: you want to hold back vomit with one hand while turning the page with the other. Or if you like reading sweet action scenes, I guess.

Books in Night Angel Series (2)

Keyes stunned the fantasy community with his phenomenal new high fantasy novel, The Briar King, a few years ago. This guy is a master of the English language. His writing is both witty and beautiful; sort of an Oscar Wild meets J.R.R. Tolkien synergy. His plot is thick, rich with interesting characters (and the dialogue is top notch and at times, hilarious), and the world fairly gritty, though less so than George R. Martin's. Keyes takes old fantasy cliches and creates something new. I can't recommend this fantasy series enough. Keyes continues his excellent standard throughout the series for the first couple, but the last book things fall to pieces. What a magnificent start and an equally magnificent failure of an ending. Had Keyes kept things up, this series would have been up there on the Great or Top 100 list, but now it's only Good enough. Shame.

Books in The Kingdoms Of Thorn And Bone Series (3)

Similar Recommendations

If you like Greg Keyes' The Briar King, try R. Scott Bakker's The Darkness That Comes Before, which features superlative prose, an unique, but fascinating storyline, and the gritty realism that Martin exhibits. Also try Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and Ice saga and Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time.

Picture a dark, apocalyptic world set in the near future. A world conquered by vampiric aliens, where humans are kept as nothing more than feeding and breeding stock. This is not your normal post-apocalyptic novel. Knight creates a rich milieu, almost reminiscent of an epic fantasy world. Make no mistake, this novel cannot be pigeon-holed into a single genre, it has elements of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. This is one hell of a thrill ride with a dark tension that keeps you pinned from the moment you open the cover to the second you wipe your eyes at 3 in the morning. Edit: That's how the series started. I was very much excited. But Knight let's things go to hell after a couple books and nothing ever really gets resolved. Very disappointed and I stopped reading after book 4-5 when it became a sort of monster of the week series.
A High fantasy series that's never gotten the love it deserves. I read this series a few years ago and was thoroughly addicted. Lots of politics, fighting, strange magic, and some pretty compelling characters. Recommended.This is more of a classic fantasy tale than the newer, more gritty complex fantasy that's come out the past decade, but it's still a tale very much worth reading if you like magic, politics, treachery, and kingdom's on the brink.
The Saga of Reclucedescribes a constant war between order and chaos, and its magic system is a significant part of that. Where Order is present in the molecular bonds that make up the world, chaos stands for the destruction of that matter. Magic users can choose one, but they must understand the influence of the other to be successful. Black wizards (order) create magic by strengthening or changing the bonds of existing objects. White wizards, on the other hand, break those bonds, creating earthquakes, explosions, and more. Of course, both come at a cost. Using chaos will inevitably lead to further chaos in the White mage’s lives. As a result, they often die younger. Using Order makes it difficult to tell lies, even inside their own heads, and to use objects that destroy, such as knives or swords. Grey mages, meanwhile, try to balance both, but still often age at an accelerated rate. These tangible consequences give a feeling of reality to the system, and the way magic is used adds to that. Rather than being squirreled away in towers and royal courts, wizards use their magic in a way that makes sense to them. Order uses have a liking for engineering and woodworking, while white mages often clean roads, prevent smuggling, or remove bacteria. Despite this, every wizard has unique traits. Like anything else, use of magic is influenced by the user’s perception. Some will see ways to manipulate the world that others won’t, leading to infinite variety and a thorough, realistic system.

Books in The Saga Of Recluce Series (26)

If there's one thing that can be taken from our own history, it's that that watching monarchies fight for and over power is fascinating. As long as you don't get your head chopped off in the process. It's this kind of intrigue that drives the plot of Crown of Stars and makes it such an enthralling read.Why it made this listThe series requires a serious investment of time – each title is long and needs some energy to get through. Fortunately, it's worth it to spend some time with the characters. They're complex and complicated – with all the motivations, strengths and flaws of people in our own world. For this reason, they feel real and easy to identify with. You can't help but become attached to them.Elliot manages to paint a world that's rich in detail without sacrificing any pace in the action. Not something that's easy to find in long sagas like this one. And it's lucky she's so skilled at it because reading this series becomes and immersive experience – one that would suffer if it got weighed down by lengthy expositions or descriptions.The themes explored in the series are easy to relate to; the kind of things we content with throughout our lives. Through the relationships between the characters, she challenges readers to explore notions concerning the cost of power, the fine line between love and obsession and the complex nature of fulfilling duties in the face of contention.

Books in Crown Of Stars Series (5)

Similar Recommendations

Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn
Tad William's Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn saga. William has beautifully reinterpreted Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (and no it is not in the least bit a clone, and no, there is no One Ring), creating a vast world of mystery and magic. Characterization is top notch.

Liveship Traders
Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders. Romance, adventure, and lots of romantic tension driving the narrative.

The Curse of Chalion
The Curse of Chalion, which has as strong narrative driven by characters. Even more, read the sequel, Paladin of Souls which is from the perspective of a middle aged woman looking for love again.

Symphony of Ages
You might also might like the Symphony of Ages books which is very much driven by romance the whole way through.
It is 600 AD and Rome has never fallen. The Roman Empire of the East will join the Roman Empire of the West to invade the inimical Persians who threaten the very gates of Constantinople itself. Featuring epic battles, beautiful babes, and powerful magic, Oath of Empires is an epic story so full of energy that your hair will sizzle. It features the epic scope of a Steven Erikson novel, a Robert Jordan Wheel of Time like struggle, and the George Martin propensity for axing main characters. Yummy! Similar recommendations: Steven Erickson? ? Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen saga, which is as epic as they come, and features an array of massive battles like Oath of Empires. The dazzling magic battles are also very similar is scope and size. Harlan? work focuses more closely on individual characters, however, while Erickson zooms out. You might also try Michelle West? Sun Sword saga which features a similar type scenario as in Oath of Empires (two culturally different empires clashing, while an ancient evil stirs behind the scenes orchestrating a conquest of the mortal world?. Also give James Barclay's Ascendants of Astoria saga a shot. Great battle scenes and epic. 

Books in Oath Of Empire Series (5)

Similar Recommendations

I'm not a fan of Piers Anthony in general (on a personal level I find the man utterly distasteful just read his blog for example and you'll find he's a racist, sexist, and has a disturbing fascination of young girls). But, his Incarnations of Immortality is his best series. And it's a pretty damn good read to boot. Definitely worth reading.

Books in Incarnations Of Immortality Series (7)

Very well written fantasy series. Expect the usual grey characterization endemic to all of John Marco's books. Read the other two sequels "Devil's Armor" and "Sword of Angels." Disappointed with the ending of it, but still a good read. Heâs come out with a new book with the same character in 2013.
A fantasy series set in an elaborately detailed medieval Asian landscape. The book has two very well drawn female protagonists. These are some great fantasy books that don't get enough recognition. ItÃ's flawed work but worth reading. Wooding's Jetty Kay tales are much better I feel.
For a Fair Tale well done, look no further than Tad Williams' The War of Flowers. It makes the classic 'man-goes-into-the-fairy-realm' tale proud. Williams is really a talented writer, having churned out Memory, Sorrow, Thorn saga, the Otherland saga, and his recently finished Shadowmarch series (an epic fantasy tale about fairies!). What am I saying? The man's got a pedigree in fantasy and knows how to write pretty damn interesting books. Williams usually spends a LOT of time building up his books and it can take some time to really get into the meat of the story (like a few books into a series), but since The War of Flowers is a standalone, you don't have any of Williams' usual ponderous world building to wade through; basically, you get his excellent storytelling compressed into 500 words. It's a win win for any fantasy fan who's tired of epic stacks of fantasy book sagas to wade through. So, if you like fair tales, romance, and adventure, then you are going to love The War of Flowers. You can also feel proud that you've saved the environment by not supporting the killing of excess trees while you are at it.
This High Fantasy series has gone under the radar for some reason. It's fantasy in the classic epic tradition. A band of heroes strives against an all-powerful sorceress. The most prominent feature in this four-book saga is its graphic violence. These books are full of blood--too much in fact. After a while, the constant fighting becomes wearisome. Still, if you are looking for some epic fantasy that's heavy on the action, and has above-average characterization, give this saga a shot. I found this series much better than average and perhaps underrated.

Books in The Dragoncrown War Cycle Series (3)

Similar Recommendations

If you like the Dragon Crow War, definitely read the prequel book: When Dragons Rage. If you like the epic tradition of the Dragon Crown War, you'll love Robert Jordan's A Wheel of Time, which is a very entertaining (but so much longer) series.
A world where the heroes of science are literally the masters of the world. Enter Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton, masters of the new science of…magic? The basic premise to this series is that Isaac Newton, instead of discovering the secrets of Calculus, discovered the secrets of alchemy and magic. Throw in a number of other historic figures (and not necessarily from the exact same time) who all end up either affected by or meddling with the new secrets of Alchemy. This series is also a cautionary tale of man’s inability to balance morality with scientific discovery and the consequence of this. It’s an interesting story and one that combines quite a few real historical details with the fantastical. The female characters in particular are well drawn by Keyes – they are far from the simple cardboard cutouts that usually populate fantasy, especially considering that the series is over a decade old.

Books in The Age Of Unreason Series (3)

Similar Recommendations

If you like the alternative American history theme of the novel, then read Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series which is also set in an alternate colonial America where magic works. If you want the alternate American history without magic, give Harry Turtledove a try.
Gavriel Kay's Fionavar is an ode to J.R.R. Tolkien, building on his life as an editorial assistant to his son, Christopher. Kay was instrumental in the publication of the legend's posthumous works, and the echoes of those themes shine through in this series. It carries many of the elements of classic heroic fantasy, complete with a rising evil and an unlikely hero. Kay's execution, though, is entirely different. The series follows five students from the university of Toronto as they find themselves in a magic world. While Tolkien blends many mythologies, this setting has a Celtic style that makes it feel incredibly unique. Kay keeps the lengthy, lyrical prose, but surpasses many in his characters and plot. It's not a journey to Mordor – it's complex, winding, linked and intricate. That describes his characters too, to an extent. The series has a huge number of them, yet they manage to promote real depth and emotion. The five each have their own flaws which they must overcome, and that makes for a great story of power, forgiveness and free will. Read if you like: Tolkien, high fantasy, heroic fantasy.

Books in The Fionavar Tapestry Series (3)

The Napoleonic Wars seem to be an especially fascinating era for writers; this series is the second on the list set in this time period at the turn of the 19th century. His Majesty's Dragon, the first in the Temeraire series, takes place in an alternate version of the world where intelligent dragons are used as military air forces in both Asia and Europe.The books center on the dragon Temeraire and his handler, Will Lawrence, who fight on the side of British forces, Lawrence having become a dragonrider when an egg unexpectedly falls into his hands. Lawrence, originally part of the Naval Corps, must learn to navigate the very different world of the Aerial Corps of which he has just joined, while at the same time rearing his dragon and teaching him about the world. This development of the curious bond between dragon and rider is one of the strengths of this book, with fans reveling in their humorous and heartwarming interactions.While the book may not contain many female characters, the ones that do exist are progressive for their time, riding dragons themselves. There is no ‘good vs. evil' battle here, which many fantasy fans may find refreshing, letting themselves instead imagine what the world could have been like if dragons existed.Read if You Like: dragons, alternate history, military fiction

Books in Temeraire Series (10)

Rich and complex high fantasy, set in an alternate Venice. Somewhat slow, especially at the beginning, but a nice long read for that rainy day. Book gets very good if you stick with it. I'm generally not a fan of Lackey's books (I feel they are clich© and not very well written). Of all her fantasy books, this one is, I feel, is her best.
Great read, though inferior to her latest saga: Sword of Shadows. A merge between epic fantasy, heroic fantasy, and sword & sorcery. An obscure baker's apprentice finds he has the extremely rare gift of sorcery. Sounds like your standard "epic fantasy clone" but Jones draws her characters more clearly than most sword & sorcery novels and the story, at its core, sucks in your interest. The books are well paced with a heavy impetus of action. An addictive series that's very much worth the read -- just as long as you know you are getting the standard fantasy epic.

Similar Recommendations

Read Jones' Sword of Shadows saga, a complex and brutal fantasy series that's made my Top 25. It's much better than her Book of Words series and shows how much Jones has improved as an author.
This saga is a nice change from standard fantasy. It's set in a Mediterranean milieu -- rich, complex, and full of exotic mystery. Overall, a great read. British author McKenna, already known for her Tales of Einarinn series, is bound to earn plenty of new fans with her U.S. hardcover debut. Although the folk of the vast Aldabreshin Archipelago live by portents and auguries, they fear magic, to the point of executing those felt to be tainted by it. After brutal magical attacks from the south push the Archipelago's citizens to near panic, fair-minded warlord Daish Kheda strives to forge an alliance with his fellow warlords, but petty squabbles stand in the way. When another warlord attempts to murder Kheda and his family in their sleep, Kheda disappears, letting his enemies as well as allies assume he's dead. An original and intriguing setting, impressive world-building and compelling writing set McKenna's work apart from a field thick with far less ambitious fantasy works. Fans of Rosemary Kirstein and Robin Hobb will enjoy this book.

Books in Aldabreshin Compass Series (3)

A world that’s just on the cusp of the industrial revolution, but one not powered by electricity, but magic. It is aether, not electricity, that powers everything, from telegrams to clocks. However, for the most part, the industrial revolution has failed to take off, as the secrets to aether are jealously guarded by guilds who maintain a power monopoly over the substance. This control has stagnated society; social mobility is unheard of and there are some devastating side affects to aether – some babies are born with strange deformities. It’s a raw take on an alternative Dickensian world and an engrossing world. This book makes for some heavy reading, but it’s worth it.

Similar Recommendations

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. The Swan's War trilogy seems both similar to, yet different from Lord of the Rings. The mysterious and rare nature of magic is a trait shared by both books, as is the beautiful prose that seems half poetry, half fiction (though Russell's work is more “modern and novelistic”).

Epic in the tradition of Robert Jordan. The characters are well drawn, at the cost of the story's pacing. You will either love West or hate her style. If you are the type of person who likes characterization over fast pacing, you will probably like West's epic saga. Her books are unique and worth reading (if you can stomach her ponderous writing style).

Books in The Sun Sword Series (6)

Outstanding characterization. Resnick really knows how to write realistic characters. Most of the characters are painted in shades of grey. Her plot is enticing, and after the first few chapters, moves along with the speed and intensity of a freight train. I would hesitate to call this romance fantasy, although it does contain trace elements of the epic clich. This series is unique enough to stand apart from the epic fantasy clone crowd and the characterization is some of the best you will find in fantasy literature. If you are in the mood for an action-packed thrill ride, full of deep characterization, you can't go wrong with this trilogy.
A modern reinvention of the classic ‘rags-to-riches’ story, Trudi Canavan’s series is easily digestible and has engaging world-building and magic systems. In the city of Imardin, magicians gather each year to drive away the poor. Incensed by their mistreatment, Sonea throws a rock, somehow piercing their magical barrier and knocking one of the wizards unconscious. Thinking a rogue magician is on the loose, the Guild hunts her, afraid that her inability to control her powers will endanger her Unconventionally, she’s adopted into the school of magic, bullied for her social class, but grows powerful all the same. Painfully portraying the struggles of an outcast, Canavan builds a character-driven story with plenty of progression. Sonea learns both magically and emotionally, all the while battling dark forces and keeping terrible secrets. As a result, the tension in the series elevates as it continues, pulling you into the next chapter effortlessly.

Books in Black Magician Series (3)

Benjamin does something unique: he creates an epic fantasy based in an Asian (Chinese mythological) setting. Very good series -- sort of like a Robert Jordan (not as big though!) type of story in ancient China. It's a trilogy.
Action, sword fighting and adventures but with the heroes and villains of the tale mice, badgers, and other talking animals. Redwall is a fast-paced action series for kids that’s wonderfully entertaining. 

Books in Redwall Series (21)

An interesting premise to this story though the execution is flawed. The style and setting is pretty reminiscent of Peake and Mievilleââ¬â¢s works with the bizarre settings and cast of weird characters; however, Campell lacks the wordsmithing abilities of those two authors. The story itself is quite interesting; worth a read if you want a dark mysterious tale set in a strange landscape.
A pretty decent urban fantasy read. You'll find a lot to like about it; I don't feel itââ¬â¢s close to the best the genre has to offer, but for a good read -- you won't regret it.
Female-centric epic fantasy that borrows quite freely from Tolkien. It's not a bad read at all, though it's not that good of one either, mainly due to the flat characters and the predictable plot. But I'll say it's worth reading if you are looking for some epic fantasy fodder with a female lead.

Books in The Books Of Pellinor Series (3)

A series of books about books…what more could an avid fantasy reader want? In her Inkheart series, Cornelia Funke takes everything that is enchanting about reading, and creates a hard-hitting story about a book binder who can read fictional characters to life. When the protagonist's mother disappears into one of her father's stories and she, herself, faces the wrath of a fictitious villain; Meggie must do everything she can to save her mother and her life. This page-turning series is driven by a simple and smart idea – what you write can come to life – and appeals to a very large audience (e.g. anyone who loves reading). Despite the simple premise of the Inkheart series, Funke had a difficult job of making each character feel as though they literally come to life in front of the reader's eyes. However, using eloquent prose and wonderfully detailed descriptions, Funke has done just that, producing a richly imaginative world that portrays each character down to the finest detail. Throughout the entirety of this series, the plot treads water on a number of dark themes, making this a heavier read than other popular fantasy series. However, this book isn't a grim or depressing read and it's darker sections are balanced by witty dialogue and one of Meggie's ever-cheerful companions.

Books in Inkworld Series (2)

Most of our readers will have heard of this title already, so I'll keep the explanations short. Percy Jackson and the Olympians is exactly what its title suggests. A boy of twelve, Percy finds himself seeing things that shouldn't be possible – demons and strange creatures in the place of humans. He quickly discovers that he's the half son of Poseidon and is sent to Camp Half-Blood to train. From there weaves an epic five-book tale, stretching across the United States and into different worlds. Percy enters the underworld, stands beside titans, and defeats monsters, but the common thread is his training. Camp Half-Blood presents the perfect ground for quirky characters, each presenting aspects of their Greek god parents. The students are pitted against each other in mock challenges and harsh contests, all the while training in sword and magic.

Books in Percy Jackson And The Olympians Series (6)

Dracula will always reign as the true master vampire, the one creature in horror and fantasy who can simultaneously seduce and terrify. And don't let yourself think this is an archaic story just because the novel was published in 1897. It still hits home even now in a way no other author has yet to match. Dracula still remains the greatest vampire novel of all time. Why it's on the list Dracula belongs a little on the edge of fantasy, having more of dark romance, horror fantasy as its themes. However, it's undeniable that this book had a huge impact on pop culture and literature. Bram Stoker managed to create a literary giant that is possibly the most pervasive of all characters in the history of fiction. While it cannot be overly analyzed (the story reflects 19th-century views on love, horror, and suspense), it is still a book that every fantasy lover should have on their shelf. Remember that even though this was not the first vampire story, every one of our modern vampire authors derives the basis of their characters from this single iconic figure. Read if you like Vampires, horror and dark romance. Before deciding that Vampires sparkle and are basically good – read Dracula.
This one falls under the "Terribly Written Books" category AND the "Overrated Books With Undeserved Hype". Woah, double kill!Some people might be wondering why bestselling author Terry Goodkind is missing from the top 25 best fantasy books. This is one of the most "asked" questions emailed to me and left in the comments section on the top list. I've drastically updated this section to more solidly make my case, to all the Goodkind fanboys out there who've been leaving the hate mail in my inbox, about just WHY Sword of Truth is so very bad. I hope this helps show why I feel these books are bad, rather than just stating that they are.Well gents and ladies, I have been saving a special spot in the Worst Fantasy section for him. Wait, you tell me: He is a best seller. Yea, but then again so is Snooky from Jersey Shore. Let's be clear: popularity does not equal quality.Even after a full year up here, Goodkind is still staying firmly planted at the number 3 spot, and I don't plan on moving him anytime soon, unless someone manages to top the level of drivel spewing forth from his pen. Though there are some new contenders for worst title, there are no real challengers just yet. Maybe next year (2013) will bring something new to the table.Tell Me Whyyyyyyy....So Why is BadKind so Good. Sorry, that came out wrong. Why is NoGoodkind so Good? Opps, sorry, he's so bad I'm getting my words twisted up here. One more time: why is Goodkind so Bad? There we go!Because, he is just like, major bad dude.Seriously people, if you think Goodkind is the Second Coming of Christ to the fantasy genre, you haven't read any real fantasy books yet. Don't ask me to add his name to any of the Best Book Lists, because I'm not going to.Goodkind.Does.Not.Deserve.To.Be.Added.Because.He's.Not.Good.Enough.I'll admit that Goodkind's first few novels were kind of entertaining in a sick sort of way, but the entertainment soon got lost behind the sheer awfulness of the man's writing. The idea was good, but the problem is that Goodkind lacked the actual writing skills to translate ideas to paper. He broke just about every 'don't do this when you're writing a novel' rule in this book. Heck, he probably even broke a few writing rules that haven't been invented yet!NoGoodKind's books are a "College English 101: Fiction Class case study" for what not to do when writing a novel. If anything, the man could sell his books as part of a Creative Writing syllabus on "Bad Books NOT to Copy".Richard Raul is THE MANDude, the hero of The Sword of Truth is THE MAN. He's the Chuck Norris of the fantasy landscape, able to defeat every dark god without breaking a sweat. He's so full of altruistic goodness that he's got a halo, except when you disagree with him and he kills you. Hell, he even goes all Chuck Norris in Book 8 on a bunch of unarmed farmer pacificists because they don't have his vision of moral clarity by not believing in absolute good and evil. So he slaughters these weak cowards and is continually praised for this over the course of the novel by Goodkind. But wait, isn't killing people who disagree with you Fascism? Nooo, that couldn't be the case, since Goodkind is so enlightened.But wait, there is more badness to come. Oh yea, he's so bad (and by baaad, I mean good) that he rips a man's spinal cord out with his bare freaking hands -- you can practically hear the Mortal Kombat "Finish Him" voiceover in the background. Hell Yea! If that's not manly and badassism, I don't know what is. A few other godlike traits: he's super intelligent on top of being a hunky male model, he's got a princess-lover who's so pure and beautiful that even Jesus would have a hard'on, and he bashes in the skull of a seven-year-old bratty kid.To delve into more of the hero's badism, let's sum it up a bit (avoid this paragraph if you don't want to read spoilers) the entire series:Farm boy finds a super sword and becomes the super Seeker of Truth, basically a badass dimwit with the big, big sword who goes around stabbing bad guys or simply any character who actually has the gall to disagree with his -- cough Goodkind's-- philosophy (which is in fact a badly written version of Ayn Rand's Fountainhead). But wait, there's more to big ol' teddy bear Richard. You see, he's really also a hidden prince too, and a pretty damn handsum one at that. No but wait, he's also a Wizard. Did I forget to mention that he's also a War Wizard on top of being a regular wizard which is basically a Wizard 2.0 with even deadlier magic than Wizard 1.0s? Oh, let's not forget about the part where he becomes KING ruler of an entire continent.Did I miss anything? Oh yes, I forgot: Richard also has a harem of attractive women who want to rip his clothes off, and rape him in a series of bad S&M scenes. Can't forget the other character: Kahland Amnell, Richards love interest princess and Mary Sue extraordinaire. Forgetting anything else? Opps one more: one of the SOT villains is an evil chicken. Yeaaaaa.....Richard Rauhl is pretty much the fantasy version of Goku from Dragon Ball Z -- always just one step away from powering up to some new super ability to save the day. The only difference: replace the stupid endless posturing of the characters with endless plot-destroying Randism pontificating by Richard. I'd like to say it's a more intelligent series than an anime made for kids, but I dont' think I can even give the series that sort of credit.Now let's get to the badly written sex and Goodkind's treatment of women in the books.Goodkind has a disturbing fascination with the domination and rape of women. I mean you have to wonder about the guy when pretty much every page involves some sadistic torture and rape of yet another innocent and lovely woman. Man, we get it guy: lovely women need to be humiliated over and over in as many different ways as possible. Now stop writing about the same damn thing for 10,000 pages! I'm beginning to suspect that John Norman from the Gor series helped ghostwrite the SOT novels or maybe Goodkind gets a kick out of reading Gor. Either way, enough of your boy fantasies please!Prose, Like, Actually Counts DudeNow if only the public could be stabbed with that same Sword of Truth that Richard Rhaul carries around, the truth of how bad this series really is would be revealed to the world. The writing itself is absolutely hideous  amateurishly written prose that will give you eyebleeds. The interesting world-building hinted at in the first novel was about the only redeeming quality of the entire series but this one small bit of potential soon gets drowned in the badlly written prose, stupid cardboard characters (with some of them bordering on ridiculous), and the dirty S&M rape scenes oh-so-generously sprinkled around every few pages.Goodkind has really mastered the literary trick of TELLING his reader, not SHOWING them. Did I mention that the writing quality is bad, like atrociously bad with -ly adverbs thrown in before practically every single verb, horrible grammar, and a plot so full of holes that it sinks to the bottom of the quality barrel?We are not in your ff'in Church, GoodkindBut by far the worst literary crime is Goodkind's penchant for pausing the story while he pontificates and pontificates and pontificates about the nature of good and evil through his characters. I mean, it gets absolutely ridiculous in the later books. The early books actually have the semblance of a plot and characters, but by the 6th book, something starts to go seriously wrong with the story threads, and Goodkind decides he's going to write his own version of The Fountainhead starring Richard, Kahland, and evil Emperor dude who wants to kill the world. The 8th book (The Naked Empire) was by far the worst offender, with a significant portion of the book given to Goodkind's bad philosophizing  there were literally pages end on end of bad philosophy spewing from the mouth of Goodkind's hero. At one point I think I skipped something like 30 pages of Richard pontificating and the plot or story didn't miss a single beat.If you want to read Goodkind, you can save yourself a lot of pain and just skip straight to the source: read Ann Rynd's Fountainhead, the book that inspired the Sword of Truth series.Now, I wouldn't toss Goodkind on this list only because of A Wizard's First Rule. No, it took a string of absolute trash to land him on the worst fantasy book list. His recent book titles can be used as a euphemism for crap, puke and other less-than-wholesome words.Goodkind's book quality goes like this:'first book -- readable with some interesting world-building, but terrible prose'books 2 - 3 -- less readable'books 4 - 6 -- even less readable and preachy'books 7 - 9 -- oh my god, my eyes are bleeding and I'm going deaf from all the bad Fountainhead preaching'books 10 - 12 -- thank god the series is done. Oh but wait, he's signed up for MORE novels.'Sword of Truth Tie Ins -- doesn't even qualify as a novelI now hear that Goodkind has decided to embrace the self-publishing movement and inflict even more books on the public, this time with even less editorial control, since he's now going to be the author, editor, and publisher. God save us from the horror of it all!I fully expect putting Goodkind in this section will rile up some of his fans (and feel free to express yourself in the comment section), but before posting anything nasty or libeling my character and tastes, please read the top 5 books on my Top 25 Best Fantasy Book list, THEN come and tell me why NoGoodkind should be taken off this list.

Books in Sword Of Truth Series (14)

An interesting concept. A dark gritty hidden part of London that functions as a sort of universal septic tank -- home to gods, demons, angles, humans, misfits and every sort of creature every imagined in the present, past, and future. Throw into this strange reality a down and out detective with a knack for finding things opening shop and you have probably the strangest detective novels in existence.But great reads â dark, action packed, and with a lot of zing. Itâs not as sophisticated as some of the other detective urban fantasy though it partially makes up for that with the interesting world building.

Books in Nightside Series (17)

One of the more interesting series. The author takes the classic young prodigy destined to change the world conceit and plays around with it in some new ways. For one, he makes the world a pretty dark and brutal place with the early parts of the story detailing the hell on earth that is the protagonist's life. The characters are interesting as are some of the relationships. Some good potential with this series. One of the more interesting pseudo alternate history fantasy books. Definitely worth reading if you like your fantasy dark and you enjoy reading about the boy with a destiny type of fantasy, but one that's been remade into something new.

Similar Recommendations

This series has evolved as one of the more entertaining and complex epic fantasy series out there. Thereâs a cast of eclectic characters, politics, magic, and war and an epic world ending plot to tie it all together. Mad god kings, evil sorcerers, miniature warriors, humans, and sentient animals battle for control of a powerful artifact that in the wrong hands marks the destruction of the world. The setting â a giant and mysterious ship where the conflict takes place â makes for a unique setting. All in all, a fantastic and fascinating world that you just want to get swept up in. Edit: Until you get to some of the later books in the series, then things just all apart. When I first started the series I thought I found a new, novel voice in fantasy. But things kept on getting worse and worse with each new book released. I actually gave up by book five on it. Along with Peter V. Brett, one of the best debuts and one of the most disappointing set of sequels.

Books in The Chathrand Voyage Series (3)

If you're looking to scratch the itch for an epic after finishing Game of Thrones, this series is a great place to start. It details the growth of the king's four children through to adulthood, jumping across a multitude of perspectives, political maneuvering, and battles.It's huge in scope and slow in its pacing, but Acaia has that rare ability to make you think deeply. Durham, seamlessly integrates important philosophies into the story through his characters and their actions. None of the four protagonists are outright 'heroes'. In fact, the book takes a close look at the monstrosities dynasties get away with in the name of good. You quickly learn that the kingdom isn't all it's cracked up to be, and when the threat of invasion looms, it's not always easy to pick the right side. It's not an easy read. There isn't a constant or flashy use of magic to catch your eye, and the sheer detail means it can be overwhelming. But if you can push past that, you'll find real value in this story of betrayal, war, and relatable villains. Read if you like: Game of Thrones, multiple perspectives, gray areas.

Books in Acacia Series (3)

Similar Recommendations

Acacia is written in the epic Fantasy tradition that Tolkien pioneered. Epic Fantasy is probably the most popular type of Fantasy and the real "poster boy" for the Fantasy genre (something that I personally believe should not be the case). 

If you like Acacia, then it's a sure bet that you will love these other series. 

A Song of Ice and Fire

You should definitely read George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, which is the best epic fantasy series currently out there (and my top pick). 

The Wheel of Time

Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time is also another excellent epic Fantasy in the tradition. The Greg Keyes' Kingdom of Thorn and Bone is also another spectacular epic fantasy series that's several notches above most other series -- at least for the first couple books. The series fails after the third book and the last book is dreadfully disappointing.

The Lord of the Rings

And of course the daddy of epic Fantasy, The Lord of the Rings

The Malazan Book of the Fallen

For a more anti-hero protagonist, Stephen Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is another great series to read. You want epic Fantasy that brings new meaning to the word "epic," then read Steven Erikson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen

The Blade Itself

And if you want some epic Fantasy that really breaks or twists in some way most of the standard conventions of epic Fantasy, read Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself.

A very interesting epic fantasy tale, sort of a cross between A Song of Ice and Fire and Lions of Al-rassan. The series proves to come off the rails a bit after a few books â the world building is interesting, the concepts are grand and expansive, but the characters fall very flat. There was potential here, but things didnât take off the way I thought they would early on in the series. Worth reading, but doesnât rise to the potential it could have been. Keyes stunned the fantasy community with his phenomenal new high fantasy novel, The Briar King, a few years ago. This guy is a master of the English language. His writing is both witty and beautiful; sort of an Oscar Wild meets J.R.R. Tolkien synergy. His plot is thick, rich with interesting characters (and the dialogue is top notch and at times, hilarious), and the world fairly gritty, though less so than George R. Martin's. Keyes takes old fantasy cliches and creates something new. I can't recommend this fantasy series enough. Keyes continues his excellent standard throughout the series.
An interesting tale with some good mythology woven in, but I found it hard to get into. Some compare it to A Song of Ice and Fire (are not all books linked to that work now?), but I would say it's not so fitting a description. The whole tale is very much medieval and you do feel like you are in this fantasy version of the middle ages, but the characters don't really stand out and the plot was a bit muddled. Still a good read and I hazard a guess that some people love it. I found it good, but not great.
The Iron Druid Chronicles is one of those series you either really like or you are completely ambivalent about. I fall into the later category; for the most part, Hearne pretty much takes the whole Dresden formula and changes the character names and backgrounds. Yes, as the series progresses, it does get much better and Hearne comes into his own, but I feel Butcher's Dresden books are better in every regard. However, if you love The Dresden Files and you want something VERY similar, The Iron Druid Chronicles are about as close as you are going to get.

Books in Iron Druid Chronicles Series (11)

A gritty fantasy that tries to break some of the standard rules and succeeds to a point. There's some good world building in this one and the setting itself is interesting -- a harsh, ice-filled milieu that's desolate and harsh. You usually don't see this sort of environment in fantasy.The author puts quite a few view points in the novel -- 13 when I counted. Personally, I don't like jumping back and forth between so many characters and it distracts from the story.Overall, a pretty good grimdark fantasy tale that holds true to the expected conversions. If you like grimdark, you'll enjoy this one.

Books in Seven Forges Series (1)

This first installment in the Worldbreaker Saga (the second came out last October) is an epic fantasy with intriguing world(s), an engaging plot, and complex characters. Throughout the 500 plus page novel, Hurley takes world-building to a new level, and challenges the norms of the fantasy genre with her discussions of gender fluidity, alternative marriage and family structures, all within a fascinating and dynamic setting that is a character itself. The book's actual characters, in large part multifaceted women who are neither flawless nor strictly evil, struggle through everything from a world rife with ethnic tensions to the very basic desire of a girl to be reunited with her mother. Be forewarned: this book is dense; after all, it packs in the histories of multiple nations spanning more than one world (don't worry, it comes with a glossary and character guide). And don't get too attached to the characters either… think a Game of Thrones style approach to character safety. But if you're searching for a knock-out novel that pulls you into a magical world of doppelgangers, assassins, blood sacrifices and a whole lot more, pick up The Mirror Empire. You won't be disappointed. Read if You Like: multiple points of view, deep world building, epic fantasy, political plots

Books in Worldbreaker Saga Series (1)

Similar Recommendations

One of the more interesting fantasy debuts this year by a well-established pedigreed author (she's won some serious awards with two previous HUGO's). It's an interesting take on the epic fantasy genre with solid writing and a highly imaginative world.

The Mirror Empire is one of those few fantasy books that comes along every few years and pushes the boundaries of the genre into a slightly different direction. And for that alone, this book should be lauded.

The author's mashup of a number of different ideas, genres, and even universes, is a breath of fresh air.

However, there are shortcomings a plenty present too. The shift between the two main POV's happens quite often and out of the blue. It's jarring and it ruins the flow and you are left feeling mildly confused as to where you are and what character you are following now (you'll get what I mean when you read the story). Not all the POV's are as well developed as the others. The author does flesh out a few of the characters, but the other characters are really left by the wayside. And by golly, there is an astounding amount of blood, violence, and mayhem. This may or may not be your cup of tea, but the warning is there.

Overall, I must wax lyrical about this book. One of the more interesting and best fantasy books to come out this year -- in my personal top 5. The Mirror Empire holds nothing back, it's a brutal heavy take on the violence and atrocity of warfare: People die, characters die -- often horribly. There are few books I've read with a body count that runs into the hundreds and the thousands -- and this is one of those books. But there is method to all this violence; the book is a sharp look and critique at the horrors of war and all the evils founded on it -- genocide, ethnic cleansing, and brutality. You can certainly read this book and see many real world parallels, especially in the Middle East conflicts and the genocides occurring in Africa.

For a novel that does the novel things and pushes the boundary and spins the genre on its head, for a novel that takes a smart look at the hard things about ware, for a fantasy with a message, and for a fantasy that holds nothing back and combines different genres, ideas, with some serious action and worldbuilding ideas, the Mirror Empire must be read.

A series that's been round for a while now. It's good enough to read if you are clamoring for some fantasy with a lot of politics and scheming and slowly building conspiracies. It's a slower paced series and it can take you a few books to get the big picture. Frankly, I found myself bored after a few books in. If you want a more modern idea of fantasy with lots of action and suspense blending in with political drama (i.e. a Sanderson novel say), you won't find that here.There's too much attention given to the whole political angle in the five books -- so much that the story is often stalled. However, this series is a decent read and if you want a slower paced political fantasy with good world building and conspiracies, pick it up.

Books in Winds Of The Forelands Series (4)